|Coleridge declares that a man cannot have a good conscience who refuses apple dumplings, and I confess that I am of the same opinion. - Charles Lamb|
No. 235, Part I, 5 December 1995
We welcome you to Part I of the Open Media Research Institute's Daily Digest. This part focuses on Russia, Transcaucasia and Central Asia. Part II, distributed simultaneously as a second document, covers Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe. Back issues of the Daily Digest, and other information about OMRI, are available through our WWW pages: http://www.omri.cz/Index.html ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^TODAY'S TOP STORY^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ YELTSIN VETOES BILL ON MILITARY SERVICE. President Boris Yeltsin vetoed on 4 December amendments to the Military Service Act passed by the State Duma on 15 November (see OMRI Daily Digest, 16 November 1995), Interfax reported. The Duma wanted to release current conscripts after 18 months instead of prolonging their service to two years. Yeltsin rejected the law, citing procedural violations. However, Yeltsin did issue a decree on 3 December allowing troops to be discharged after 18 months if they had been wounded or involved in combat duty for at least a month. -- Constantine Dmitriev ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ RUSSIA "UNDECIDEDS WILL WIN" IN DECEMBER POLL. Speaking on NTV on 5 December, pollster Dmitrii Olshankii predicted that "the undecideds will win" in the Duma election since only 55% of Russia's 102 million electors intend to vote. Of those, another 10% may spoil their ballot or not vote for the party-list candidates, which means that the parties may be competing for only 45% of registered voters. He expects the Communist Party to win 14%, Our Home Is Russia 8%, the Congress of Russian Communities 8%, Yabloko 8%, the Liberal Democrats 7%, Women of Russia 6%, and Democratic Choice of Russia 6%. He predicts a tight and unpredictable race for the single-mandate seats, principally between the Communist Party and Our Home Is Russia. -- Peter Rutland CANDIDATES ATTEND ORTHODOX CHURCH CONFERENCE ON RUSSIA'S FUTURE. Liberal Democratic Party of Russia Chairman Vladimir Zhirinovsky told a conference on "Russia in the 21st century" that he sees the Russian Orthodox Church as the basis for the country's spiritual revival and that Orthodox Christianity should remain the only state-recognized religion in Russia, ITAR-TASS reported on 4 December. The conference, organized by the Russian Orthodox Church, was attended by the leaders of 17 other electoral blocs, including Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, Federation Council Speaker Vladimir Shumeiko, State Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin, Russia's Democratic Choice leader Yegor Gaidar, Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov, and Agrarian Party leader Mikhail Lapshin. Lapshin said he sees Russia as a great agricultural country in the next century, while Gaidar stressed the fatal consequences of a halt to the reform process. -- Anna Paretskaya DUMA DEPUTY'S APARTMENT BOMBED. On the night of 2 December, a small bomb, estimated to contain 150 grams of TNT, blew in the windows of Duma Deputy Artem Tarasov's Moscow apartment, Interfax reported on 4 December. Coincidentally, in a 1 December television election broadcast for the Kedr (Cedar) Ecological Party monitored by the BBC Tarasov had said, "Like contract killings, there are contract public opinion polls, according to which a particular party comes ahead of others. They are made to order, hence their results vary so much." -- Peter Rutland SHOOTING IN MOSCOW RESTAURANT. One person was killed and five wounded in a shooting at a Moscow cafe over the weekend, Russian and Western agencies reported on 4 December. Police say two gunmen burst into private rooms at the Angara cafe on Novyi Arbat Street, killing a Muscovite and wounding two of his friends. The other casualties, including a British businessman, were injured when the gunmen opened fire in the dining room as they fled. Also on 4 December, ITAR-TASS reported that Albert Apollonov, a prominent local businessman, was murdered in Petrazavodsk in Kareliya in what police say was a contract killing. Apollonov headed the Rosika company that trades in oil products. Interior Minster Anatolii Kulikov called on 1 December for the creation of a special bureau to investigate the large number of contract killings. -- Penny Morvant RUSSIAN CUSTOMS FINISH DEMARCATION OF RUSSO-BALTIC BORDER. State Customs Committee Chairman Anatolii Kruglov opened the last checkpoint on Russia's border with the Baltic states, Shumilkino, ITAR-TASS reported on 4 December. According to Kruglov, up to $67 million and 20 billion rubles ($4.4 million) were spent on the demarcation of the Russian borders with Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. Meanwhile, Estonia and Latvia continue to insist on border revisions despite Russian objections. -- Constantine Dmitriev RUSSIAN, BELARUSIAN SECURITY SERVICES AGREE TO COOPERATE. Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) Director Mikhail Barsukov and his Belarusian counterpart, Uladzimir Yahorau, signed a cooperation agreement last week, Krasnaya zvezda reported on 5 December. The Belarusian service agreed to safeguard Russian troops temporarily stationed in Belarus. The two directors also appealed to the Russian and Belarusian governments to develop bilateral cooperation in combating terrorism, drug trafficking, and arms smuggling. -- Constantine Dmitriev YELTSIN PASSES AGREEMENT ON RUSSIAN-EU COOPERATION TO DUMA. President Boris Yeltsin submitted an EU partnership and cooperation agreement to the State Duma for ratification, Interfax reported on 4 December. The agreement was signed on 24 June 1994. However, the interim trade accord, which was part of the agreement, was frozen by the EU in January 1995 due to the war in Chechnya and then reactivated in April 1995 after the opening of an OSCE mission in Grozny. The agreement grants Russia "most favored nation" status and recognizes it as a "transition economy" rather than a "planned economy," which makes it more difficult for the EU to levy anti-dumping tariffs against Russian imports. -- Constantine Dmitriev VLADIMOV WINS BOOKER PRIZE. Former human rights activist Georgii Vladimov has been awarded the Russian Booker Prize for best novel of the year for his A General and His Army, Russian and Western agencies reported on 4 December. Vladimov, who is living in exile in Germany, is the first emigre writer to win the prize. His novel is devoted to Andrei Vlasov, a captive Russian general who led a force of Soviet PoWs that fought on the German side during World War II. There are still debates about whether Vlasov was a cowardly collaborator or an anti-Communist patriot. -- Penny Morvant INTELLECTUALS IN DEFENSE OF CULTURE. Representatives of the "creative intelligentsia" gathered in the Bolshoi Theater on 4 December to discuss the crisis in Russian culture. Their discussion focused on the theme, "a civilized market can only be built in a civilized society," Russian TV reported. The conference was addressed by such figures as author Fazil Iskander and Academician Dmitrii Ligachev, who warned against the "self- isolation" of Russian culture. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin also attended. He promised to double budget spending on culture to 2 trillion rubles ($435 million) next year and to introduce tax breaks for cultural organizations. -- Peter Rutland SPENT FINNISH NUCLEAR FUEL SENT TO RUSSIA. A trainload of spent nuclear fuel from a Finnish nuclear power plant arrived in Russia on 2 December for processing at the Mayak plant in Chelyabinsk-65, Komsomolskaya pravda reported on 5 December. According to the paper, it is not clear whether the nuclear residue remaining after processing will be shipped back to Finland or kept in Russia. Meanwhile, Interfax reported on 4 December that a German company has signed a contract with the Kursk nuclear power plant to construct a nuclear waste storage facility and 240 containers to store the plant's radioactive waste. The German Company for Nuclear Containers, a subsidiary of Nukem, will control production quality, train specialists, and provide the know-how for container production. According to Gosatomnadzor, the state agency responsible for monitoring nuclear safety, the solid waste storage facilities at the Kursk plant are full. -- Penny Morvant NEW BILLS FOR OLD. The Russian Central Bank is taking steps to calm anxiety about the U.S. government's plan to introduce a new $100 bill in January. The bank's deputy chairman, Aleksandr Khandruev, said that financial institutions will be forbidden from charging more than 2% commission for exchanging the old bills, Russian TV reported on 4 December. The main fear is that the process will reveal large numbers of fake old bills. Already there have been several cases of "new" $100 notes turning up--even though the U.S. has not yet released any. An estimated $15 billion in cash is circulating inside Russia (see OMRI Economic Digest, 16 November 1995). -- Peter Rutland GOVERNMENT PRE-ELECTION SPENDING SPREE WIDENS BUDGET DEFICIT. According to First Deputy Finance Minister Vladimir Petrov, additional spending in December may widen the federal budget deficit from the projected 3.2% of GDP to 4%, Western agencies reported on 4 December. The government has promised to spend an additional 9 trillion rubles ($1.96 billion) on defense and 5.8 trillion rubles ($1.3 billion) for the Pension Fund, and to pay off a large amount of wage arrears. The government has recently renewed efforts to collect taxes from delinquent enterprises, and hopes to raise several hundred million dollars from the auction of a 78% stake in the YUKOS oil company, which will take place on 8 December. Petrov also reported that the IMF has agreed to double the next two monthly payments under the 1996 standby loan. At the same time, the IMF warned the Russian government to stay within the target budget figures. -- Natalia Gurushina TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA SEVEN UZBEK NEWSPAPERS CEASE PUBLICATION. Financial difficulties have forced a prominent Uzbek publishing house to suspend publication of seven Tashkent-based newspapers, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 1 December. The Sharq publishing house, which owns the papers, is currently facing a debt of more than 2 million sum ($57,000). The papers that ceased publication on 30 November are Tashkentskaya pravda, Toshkent khakikati, Turkiston, Molodezh Uzbekistana, and the dailies Watan, Vecherniye Tashkent, and Toshkent oqshomi. No word was given as to when they will resume publication or if the publishing house is repaying its debt. -- Roger Kangas KARIMOV AND AKAYEV MEET TO DISCUSS ECONOMIC COOPERATION. Uzbek President Islam Karimov held talks in the Uzbek sity of Andijan on 4 December with his Kyrgyz counterpart, Askar Akayev, Interfax reported. The leaders focused on increased economic cooperation, particularly in the field of natural gas and oil deliveries from Uzbekistan to energy-starved Kyrgyzstan. Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev will reportedly join the meeting to discuss the Central Asian economic union established in January 1994. To date, in spite of calls for regional cooperation, the union has achieved very little. -- Roger Kangas FOUR CANDIDATES FOR KYRGYZ PRESIDENTIAL RACE. The deadline for hopefuls in the 24 December Kyrgyz presidential election passed on 3 December and the field of candidates has been narrowed from 13 to just four, Radio Rossii reported. The officially registered candidates are President Askar Akayev, former speaker of parliament Medetken Sherimkulov, former Communist Party First Secretary and current Communist Party Chairman Absamat Masaliev, and former Communist Party Secretary and current Deputy Prime Minister Jumgalbek Amanbayev. Ata Meken Party leader Omurbek Tekebayev, Adilet Movement leader Yuruslan Toychubekov, and the former director of the Kadamzhay Antimony plant, Mamat Aybalayev, had their applications for registration rejected for unspecified reasons. -- Bruce Pannier RADIOACTIVE WASTE PROBLEM IN KAZAKHSTAN. The amount of radioactive waste accumulating at uranium mining and processing plants in Kazakhstan is reaching alarming proportions, according to ITAR-TASS on 4 December. Since the country became independent in 1991, the quantity of radioactive waste stored in Kazakhstan has grown to 219 million tons. The republic's Ministry of Ecology and Biological Resources claims the aggregate radioactivity from the waste comes to 250,000 curies, which is "many times more than the accepted norm." Kazakhstan does not have the means to deal with the waste because under the Soviet Union disposal was a national responsibility carried out by the government in Moscow. -- Bruce Pannier TAJIKISTAN OPENS EMBASSY IN ANKARA. Tajikistan opened an its first embassy outside the former Soviet Union in Ankara on 4 December, AFP reported. In August, reports surfaced that former Interior Minister Yaqub Salimov would be Tajikistan's ambassador to Turkey. Salimov was removed from office that month amid charges that he headed a personal army of 20,000 troops. In 1994, Turkey opened an embassy in Dushanbe in an effort to show that it was not only focusing on the Turkic-speaking republics of the former Soviet Union. -- Lowell Bezanis CURFEW IN DUSHANBE. The Tajik government imposed a curfew on the capital, Dusahnbe, effective on 1 December, according to a 2 December report on the opposition's radio station, the Voice of Free Tajikistan. The radio interpreted the move as a preventative measure to ensure stability in Dushanbe during the peace negotiations between the government and opposition in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. -- Bruce Pannier [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Victor Gomez The OMRI Daily Digest offers the latest news from the former Soviet Union and Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe. It is published Monday through Friday by the Open Media Research Institute. The OMRI Daily Digest is distributed electronically via the OMRI-L list. To subscribe, send "SUBSCRIBE OMRI-L YourFirstName YourLastName" (without the quotation marks and inserting your name where shown) to LISTSERV@UBVM.CC.BUFFALO.EDU No subject line or other text should be included. To receive the OMRI Daily Digest by mail or fax, please direct inquiries to OMRI Publications, Na Strzi 63, 140 62 Prague 4, Czech Republic; or electronically to OMRIPUB@OMRI.CZ Tel.: (42-2) 6114 2114; fax: (42-2) 426 396 Please note that there is a new procedure for obtaining permission to reprint or redistribute the OMRI Daily Digest. Before reprinting or redistributing this publication, please write firstname.lastname@example.org for a copy of the new policy or look at this URL: http://www.omri.cz/Publications/Digests/DigestReprint.html OMRI also publishes the biweekly journal Transition, which contains expanded analysis of many of the topics in the Daily Digest. For Transition subscription information send an e-mail to TRANSITION@OMRI.CZ Copyright (C) 1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570
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